Home > Articles

March 2006

This chapter is from the book

TUESDAY: MARCH 28, 2006

THIS WEEK’S FOCUS: Windows Media Center

BUYING A MEDIA CENTER PC

What makes a Media Center PC a Media Center PC? All Media Center PCs have the same components as a typical desktop PC, but with a few items fine-tuned for home theater use. In particular, most HTPCs include the following components:

  • Big hard drive, ideally 200GB or more, to store lots of television programs as well as a large CD collection

  • TV tuner—at least one, sometimes two or three (including, in some cases, an ATSC tuner for HDTV)

  • CD/DVD drive (typically a burner drive)

  • Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system, for the living room interface

Most Media Center PCs come in a form factor that isn’t quite what you’re used to with a desktop PC. The majority of Media Center PCs aren’t vertical, they’re horizontal, typically about 17 inches wide and a few inches tall, in a cabinet that closely resembles that of most audio components. The goal is to have the PC look at home in a rack of audio and home theater components—complete with the black metal or brushed aluminum faceplate.

In addition, many Media Center PCs go to some lengths to reduce the noise typically associated with personal computers. That means fewer, quieter fans—or, in some instances, no fans at all, with either water cooling or large heat sinks to dissipate the normal heat buildup.

ON THIS DAY: THREE MILE ISLAND ACCIDENT (1979)

On March 29, 1979, a nuclear accident occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The incident was caused by a combination of human and mechanical errors, when a cooling system malfunctioned and permitted a partial meltdown of the reactor’s core. Fortunately, no deaths were recorded.

GADGET OF THE WEEK: PHILIPS RC9800I WIFI REMOTE CONTROL

The RC9800i is a unique universal remote control. First, it’s activity-based rather than component-based, so it uses a lot of multiple-device macros. Second, it doesn’t just control your audio/video equipment, it can also control a variety of Universal Plug-and-Play devices on your PC system. Third, it works via WiFi, in addition to traditional infrared. And fourth, because of the WiFi connection, it displays its own electronic program guide. Buy it for $499 from http://www.homecontrol.philips.com.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account